Tips and tricks for Chrome on Android or iOS

There are plenty of reasons that Chrome frequently tops lists of the best browsers: It’s fast, it’s free, the mobile versions are great, and it’s absolutely packed with features. In fact, it has a bunch of hidden options that you may not be aware of. We compiled this handy list of Chrome tips to help you tailor the mobile browser for your needs and squeeze more out of it. While Google does a pretty good job of ensuring you get a similar experience regardless of the platform you’re on, there are differences between Chrome on Android and iOS, so we’ll mention when tips only apply to one platform or the other. Let’s get started.

How to sync Chrome across devices

One of the best things about Chrome is that it can automatically sync your browsing history, bookmarks, passwords, and other settings between devices. It’s really easy to set up, you just have to sign in to your Google account. On an Android device, you tap More (three vertical dots) at the top right, then Settings > Sign in to Chrome. On an iPhone or iPad, you tap More (three horizontal dots) at the bottom right, then Settings > Sign in to Chrome. If you’ve signed into your Google account on this phone already, then it will know who you are, otherwise, just enter your Google account details. Once you have signed in, you can tap Settings > [your account name] > Sync and choose precisely what you want to sync across devices or just toggle on Sync everything.

How to pick up where you left off

With sync set up, you can start reading an article on your desktop, then head out and pick it up later on your phone. All you need to do is open the menu in Chrome and tap Recent tabs. You’ll see a list of recently open tabs on all the devices you’re signed into with your Google account. If you don’t immediately see what you want, then tap Show full history at the bottom of each device section and you’ll get a complete list of web pages you’ve browsed on that device. Bear in mind that the device name might be a model number. The history also won’t include any Incognito sessions.

There are other ways to send web pages from Chrome to your Android phone or iPhone, but this is the easiest.

How to download pages to read later or offline

If you don’t have time to read an article right now, you can always make a Chrome reading list and download articles to read later. Use these methods and you can also read articles offline, which is ideal if you’re about to fly or go somewhere without an internet connection.

If you have an article open on your iPhone that you want to read later then simply tap More (three horizontal dots) at the bottom right, then scroll down and tap Read Later. You’ll find your list of articles in the same menu under Reading List.

With Android devices you need to tap More (three vertical dots) at the top right, then Download (down arrow icon) and you’ll find everything you downloaded listed in the same menu under Downloads.

How to switch tabs

It’s common to have multiple tabs open when you’re using Chrome and you can always tap that number at the top right in Android or bottom right in iOS to see all your tabs and switch between them, but did you know that there’s a faster way? Simply swipe left or right on the address bar at the top to cycle through your open tabs. With Android, you can also swipe down on the address bar to open the full list of open tabs.

How to use dark mode

Glaring white web pages can be unpleasant, especially first thing in the morning or when you’re reading in bed at night. Google is rolling out a proper dark mode in Android 10, and you can activate it in Chrome if you have the latest Android version. Open the menu and tap Settings > Themes and you should be able to turn it on.

How to get more info on a word, phrase, or name

When you’re reading an article and you see an unfamiliar word, or a phrase or name you want to know more about, tap on it to highlight it and you’ll get a pop-up menu with some options. You can always tap Web search, but on an Android device, you’ll also get a tab at the bottom that you can swipe up to expand and see related links and further information at a glance. On an iPhone, you’ll want to tap Look Up on the pop-up menu to access similar results.

How to find addresses, call, or email

If you tap to highlight an address, a phone number, or an email address in Chrome on Android, then you’ll get a related pop-up link at the bottom of the screen. If it’s an address then it will be a link to Google Maps, if it’s an email it will be a link to your email app, and if it’s a number it will be a link to call. With iOS, you should find that phone numbers and email addresses automatically turn into links that you can tap to trigger a call or email.

How to change your search engine

Chrome is made by Google, but you don’t have to use Google for your searches if you don’t want to. You can change your default search engine for Chrome by opening the menu and tapping Settings > Search engine, then choosing whatever you want. If your preferred option isn’t there then visit it in your browser and then check again and you should see it appear back in Settings > Search engine under Recently visited.

How to save data

If you have a data limit then you may be interested in Chrome’s data-saving capabilities. Open the menu and tap Settings > Lite mode, then toggle it on. This will route some pages through Google’s servers and simplify them to reduce the data that has to be downloaded to your phone. This isn’t available on iOS, but you can potentially save some data by going to Settings > Bandwidth > Pre-Load Web Pages and setting it to Only on Wi-Fi.

How to stop sites playing sound

Chrome generally blocks websites from automatically playing sounds, but you may want to create a list of websites that you never want to play sounds. You can do this with Chrome on Android by going to Settings > Site settings > Sound. You can toggle off all sound and add a few specific exceptions or vice versa.

How to translate pages

Google Chrome has some Google Translate functions built-in, so it can translate web pages that are in an unfamiliar language. This should be set up by default, but you can check via Settings > Languages in Android where Offer to translate pages in other languages should be toggled on. With iOS you’ll want to look in Settings > Content Settings > Google Translate and make sure it’s toggled on. It should prompt you automatically when it detects a new language, but you can also open the menu and tap Translate, if you’re using Android, and then pick your languages at the bottom of the screen.

How to get the desktop site

There are times when the mobile version of a site is unfamiliar or seems to be missing something that you’re looking for, but it’s easy to request the desktop version. Open the menu and tick the box next to Desktop site in Android or tap Request Desktop Site in iOS.

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